Sunday, January 3, 2010

One More Day in Civilization

I'm sitting inside a rounded piece of concrete watching sharks swim by.

The day started after many false starts, at nine in the morning. I took full use of the shower in the connecting room, and then ate a bread bun that had been left on the table by the two other people in the hut, aside from Hamish and I.

Hamish had left earlier for a day of Sandboarding, and 4x4ing. I, on the other hand, was met by Anne and Rachel to go out and grab some breakfast. We headed out passed the security fence, and the barbed wire, down roads lined with more and more electrified fences. We continued on past the markets set up along the road selling the same wares available at almost all cities in the area, “please mister, come see my shop. Just come see – remember you from yesterday.” They were charmingly pushy, without being creepy. And bartering down prices wasn't quite as painful as it could have been.

Seeking breakfast, we passed one place with a patio, but decided to look for another place. This would take forty minutes, result in much failure, Anne would go a separate way to eat, becoming lost to us for the day, and Rachel and I would return to the first place with the patio. Group dynamics: amazing.

For breakfast I had a delicious ostrich steak with black pepper sauce. Ostrich really is as wonderful as I'd heard it described. Let none doubt the pure awesome deliciousness of such a meal. And, if ever you have the means, do yourself a favour and have some.

After breakfast we walked around some shops, some streets, and down to the beach, and back up it. Eventually we parted ways – Rachel went to find show glasses, and I went to the aquarium.

It was there that I was granted my view of the sharks. The price for the aquarium ranged by a few dollars depending on if you were a local citizen, African citizen, or other. I really like this price scheme, and think it greatly benefits those who deserve to see such treasures. My entrance worked out to be about four dollars American, locals could access for one.

Inside I made my way around the tanks, walking under a tank that surrounded all sides, but it was when I made my way through the back side that I found my favourite part of the aquarium. The concrete seats, curved for lying down, nestled against the portholes. I climbed up and sat inside to write some of my journal entries, as well as reading more of Lord of the Rings.

I felt myself falling into unconsciousness after yesterday's long night, and finally dragged myself away, lest I end up sleeping with the fishes (ba-dum-pssh!)

Back at the compound I walked passed Courtney, and Mitchel, with their sister Bridget, and mother Helen, on their way to the laundry. Hellos were exchanged.

As I neared the compound I realized what it reminded me of – big area with barbed wire fence, and electrified fence, full of low buildings crammed in as many as could be, access to which was granted only after passing the guard post, and the entrance gate. This compound was nearly identical to a concentration camp, except here the gates were to keep people out, rather than in. The realization was an awkward and terrifying one – still, the similarities were undeniable.

Back at the cabin I typed up some emails, and blogs, that I'd send later – just before dinner – and worked towards this end until Erin and Mark came to the door, looking for people to play cards with. I typed some more, and then headed over. Rachel was there playing The Seven Game with them.

Basically, you deal out the deck. Whoever has the seven of diamonds goes first, and plays it. The next person can play a card higher or lower than the one on the table, forming a chain. If they don't have it, they can play another seven. If they don't have that, they have to pass. If they can go, they must go.

Strategy forms as you play.

After playing that for a number of rounds, I broke out Apples to Apples and gave that a go. It's very telling about peoples personalities – how they choose to play certain cards. The game went over well. And then it was time to head out for dinner.

We moved in a herd from one restaurant to the next, looking for a place to eat. getting twenty people to agree on something is never easy. Eventually a place with a patio was suggested. It was quite pricey for me, and I suggested the place back down a bit, but was overruled. Rachel also suggested it. We broke away from the pack, headed down for some fabulous pasta – mine was with an asparagus, yogurt sauce that was phenomenal. We ate inside, as the weather became cold and windy outside. We finished up, had a good chat, and then headed back.

The others were still waiting for their food to come. Some had walked back to the compound, grabbed sweaters, and returned. That's commitment to an idea. I feel we made the right choice.

Back at base, Rachel and I chatted until Hamish and Anne returned. We played cards, poker. We taught the girls how to play Texas Hold 'Em. Anne seemed to spend most of her time designing pictures, flowers mostly, with the variously coloured chips and asking “can I go to bed now?” The resounding answer to which was “NO!”

Hamish: Now that the game's over, can we stop patronizing Anne? Would you like that Anne?
Rachel: Do you know what patronizing means?

Sure Rachel was serious, talking to our German friend, but few comments came across as patronizing as that. And thus there was much giggling.

Just before we headed off to sleep the couple that was staying in the cabin with Hamish and I came by. They said I came in loud last night, then was quiet – they thought I'd left. The girl looked at me and asked if I'd “heard anything” the night before? Silence. We all froze. “Uhh – like you talking in the morning?” I asked. Sure. O.K. We had joked about what we might hear through the walls when the couple got their own room – but had come up empty. This question however, left unexplained, as they walked away seemed most leading. Had I heard anything?

More giggles.

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